Chapter 4: How to Have an Intervention
If a loved one refuses to get help or continues to deny their issue, an intervention may be needed to help them realize the seriousness and impact of their addiction.
A lot of people do not get the treatment they need. In 2016, only about one in 10 people over age 12 who needed treatment for substance use received treatment at a specialized clinic. Common reasons people do not receive treatment include:
- Not being ready to stop using
- Thinking the problem is not severe and they can control it
- Worrying they cannot afford treatment
- Not having health insurance
- Not knowing where to go for treatment
- Not having transportation to treatment
- Worrying what others will think
- Worrying it will have a negative impact on their job
None of these reasons are more important than mental and physical well-being. An intervention can be an effective way to motivate your loved one to change.
What is an intervention exactly? An intervention is a planned process created by friends and family under the consultation of a doctor, counselor or interventionist. For an intervention to be effective, it has to be carefully planned. Otherwise, family members could lose control of their emotions and forget the purpose of the intervention. Also, everything needs to be pre-arranged to make treatment seem like the easiest option.
During an intervention, family and friends gather to confront the addict and ask them to accept treatment. They will also provide specific examples relating to the impact of addictive behavior and propose a clear treatment plan. Each family member will share what they will do if treatment is refused.
In this chapter, we will look at all the steps of the intervention process. We hope to help you determine if an intervention is right for your family.
Tips for a Successful Intervention
Although we covered the basics of an effective intervention, you still want to get a professional involved. Everyone reacts to an intervention in their own way, and there are no guarantees. With careful planning and professional assistance, you can stay focused and put forth your best effort. Here are extra tips to help make the process run as smoothly as possible:
- Make sure insurance covers the treatment.
- Make sure transportation is arranged.
- Consider packing your loved one’s suitcases ahead of time.
- Do not hold the intervention last minute.
- Make sure to plan every detail.
- Pick a time when your family member is least likely to be under the influence.
- Use the intervention to treat the family member with love and concern, not anger.
- Anticipate objections.
- Stay on track during the intervention.
If you have additional questions about how to stage a successful intervention for a loved one, contact a member of dedicated team today!
1. Meet With a Professional
The first step to planning an intervention is to meet with a professional counselor. Together you will create a plan and decide who will be part of the intervention. They can help guide the intervention process from start to finish.
Research and gather information about your loved one’s addiction and treatment options. The more educated you are about the addiction, the more you will understand your loved one’s behavior, and the better prepared you’ll be to react to them productively.
During this phase, you might also take steps to initiate treatment enrollment.
3. Set a Date and Location
Set a date and location that works for all the members of the intervention. Avoid setting the intervention when the family member is likely to be under the influence or highly stressed. For example, do not plan to hold the intervention before they have to leave for work or school, as this could overwhelm them.
Make sure everyone knows what they plan to say — structure is key. Also, plan to be specific and to the point. You want to avoid overwhelming your loved one. We understand you have a lot to say, but try to keep it under five minutes. Make sure you have your thoughts written down, so you don’t forget anything in case you begin to feel overwhelmed.
5. Choose Consequences
Prepare a list consequences you know you can follow through on. If you share consequences you can’t stick to, your message will feel meaningless.
The goal is not to make your loved one feel like they are being punished for their addiction, but to express the seriousness of their addiction if they continue to refuse help. Work with other family members to choose the consequences if the loved one does not accept treatment.
For example, you might say you will refuse to give them money if they do not get help. However, if this is one of the consequences, you must be prepared to stick to it. Do not give them money if they refuse help and ask for it days later.
6. Take Notes
Make sure each member has specific examples to give. Specific examples are more difficult to dispute or deny than vague statements, and they paint a clearer picture of the effects of addiction.
Friends or acquaintances are more likely to state facts about the addiction, which can also be effective. Your loved one cannot argue with facts.
7. Hold the Intervention
Do not tell your loved one about the intervention beforehand. You do not want to give them a chance to leave and avoid it.
To begin the intervention, each member will take a turn speaking. During this time, try to remain focused on the goal of the intervention. It is okay to cry and express emotion, but be sure to stay on track.
Next, present the loved one with the treatment option and ask if they are willing to accept. Let them know what will happen if they do not accept treatment. Each member will list consequences.
8. Follow up With Support
Friends and family need to continue to show care and support throughout the entire recovery process. It is widely acknowledged in the healthcare field that family support improves treatment outcomes and promotes behavioral changes. Ways to show support during treatment include:
- Remind the recovering family member that you love them and care about them.
- Offer to attend counseling sessions with them.
- Provide positive encouragement and support.
- Let them know you are there for them if they want to talk.
- Encourage open and honest communication.
- Take care of yourself.
- Create a supportive and compassionate environment for when they return.
- Set an example and do not use substances around them or speak to them under the influence.